Is Go an Addictive Drug


This question is inspired by

  • "[ext] Go - An Addictive Game (simpler to just say "An Addiction," no?) (no - in English there is no single word for "addictive thing" - an addiction is the condition of being addicted, not the thing you're addicted to - for instance, alcoholism is an addiction, but alcohol is the addictive thing --JAC)
  • "Go is a game with the longest history. Once addicted, most people cannot shake the hobby. Its addicting power is not less than that of alcohol and sex" (at [ext] Yutopian: Go Stories).
  • a story attributed to Dr. Hong -- "you can't reach first kyu until you've lost three girlfriends to Go" -- mentioned in American Go Journal.
  • And by an intriguing-sounding webpage that seems no longer to exist, "Robert F Nutter's Go" - described as "a personal story of go addiction" -- which I haven't read, but truly would like to.
    • Thouis: I'm not sure if this is the original page (it seems to be from 12/97, and it may have been different before then), but the internet archive has a copy of [ext] Robert F. Nutter's Go

And of course, by certain personal experiences I shouldn't bore you with.

Thoughts? -- TakeNGive

Well it is an addiction. One of proofs is the fact that nobody edits this page :) (for more than a year since it's creation!) - either because they don't confirm it as truth or because they think it is obvious. The real question is: is this a dangerous addiction? How should people cope with it? MK

mdhI agree that it is addicting. Any addiction that adversly affects your life and health is dangerous. Potential Addicts should should ask themselves: Is your social life getting worse? Is your spouse and family being neglected? Are you skipping meals? Do you get anxious if you haven't played in a day or two?
Possible warning signs if your answers (not my answers) are similar:
"I have a social life, I went to a Go tournament last week!"
"I'm Single (now)"
"Food and sleep are so overrated"

Zarlan: Do I have a social life: yes
Am I neglecting my family?: Not more than before I played
Am I eating and sleeping right: I've actually gotten better on those points because of Go. I realised that I get far worse at playing when I'm hungry, sleepy or sick and have therefore gotten a bit more careful to avoid being those things.

I'd say that Go is an Addiction, but also a healthy one.

mdhI do find it harder to go to sleep if I have been playing Go. After I got back from the Go Congress I wanted to play every day. I have had to find a balance in order to keep peace with my wife.

damien I agree with the fact it is harder to go to sleep after Go. Recently, I played my first match against an equal opponent. (most of my opponents until now were either way better or absolute beginners) After the review, it was 9PM, and I could not go to bed until 4AM. My hands were still shaking from the high hours after the game.

kritz I don't have a problem ... I can quit at any time.

Phelan: "It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive..."

Tamsin: Playing go alters your state of consciousness, and you tend to get the urge to keep doing it, so it's probably fair to say that go is a kind of drug, and that it is addictive.

maruseru: Good point. You can get a high from computer programming as well, but since it's easier to make money from that, it's socially accepted.

maruseru: Maybe the problem is more common in Korea. In a [ext] webpage seemingly of Korean origin there's the question: "Have you ever been addicted to something, such as gambling, drugs, alcohol, baduk, movies and so on?" If that page can be believed, then it might be common in Korea to mention baduk addiction along with gambling, drugs and alcohol addiction, indicating a serious problem.

Bill: The original meaning of addiction is bad habit. 'Nuff said. ;-)

tapir: No.

CupAJoseki: Yes and no. As a clinical psychologist, I've worked with people with a variety of addictions and compulsions. In general, it appears that different people have different tendencies to become obsessed or addicted,with the concept of "addictive personality" being relevant here. So even the most "addictive" thing or substance might not create an addiction in a person low on the obsessive compulsive spectrum, whereas a person with a tendency toward obsessing/compulsing, for neurophysiological (e.g., low serotonin) for psychodynamic or behavioral reasons, could become "addicted" to a behavior such as turning the light switch on and off.

What's really happening in obsessions/compulsions/addictions is that the person is doing something because it is reinforcing, in the sense of either creating pleasure (positive reinforcement) or reducing discomfort/distress (negative reinforcement). An "addiction" is thus an interaction between a person with a certain level of addiction proneness and an activity with a certain level of reinforcing qualities.

As something is reinforcing as it meets a need, we need to look at what our needs are. According to Maslow, there is a needs hierarchy consisting, in its expanded version, of: Biological/physiological needs (e.g., air); Safety needs (e.g., security); Social needs (e.g., belongingness); Esteem needs (e.g., self-esteem/achievement/mastery); Cognitive needs (e.g., knowledge/meaning); Aesthetic needs (beauty/balance/form); Self-actualization needs (e.g., personal potential/peak experience); and Transcendence needs (e.g., spiritual, transcending the small self. becoming part of something larger than one's egoic self).

Some things are addicting because they have a very strong effect on one or another of these needs. For example, some substances, such as heroin and nicotine, can create physiological crises in persons who have been using them habitually and then stop. This is perceived as a threat to the most basic level of need, survival. The more "behavioral" addictions act at higher levels of needs. Again, however, their effect will probably not reach the level of "addictiveness" in a person who is not prone to addiction (high on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, again, possibly related to serotonin level, which is also related to depression).

Now, if we look at Go, the extent to which it has the potential to be addictive, for people prone to addiction, is the extent to which it meets needs at the various levels of Maslow's hierarchy. While not addressing the first two levels of biological or safety needs (except maybe for a professional who needs the income for survival), Go clearly can help someone to achieve social needs (belongingness, affection, relationships within the Go community), Esteem needs (self-esteem, achievement, mastery, status, prestige), Cognitive needs (knowledge, meaning), Aesthetic needs (appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form),Self-Actualization needs (realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, personal growth, peak experiences), and possibly Transcendence to the extent that the Go board, stones and game are a microcosm of the larger scale workings of the Universe and human nature.

Whether the game of Go interacts with a person's predisposition to create an unhelpful cognitive obsession and behavioral compulsion (words preferable to "addiction" when chemical substances are not involved) or a "positive addiction," in lay terms, depends on how much insight a person has into its effects on his or her life and whether that person addresses underlying causes for the excess if it does turn out to be unhelpful (e.g., a clinical level of depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Here is a webpage that I borrowed from for the Maslow expanded hierarchy: [ext]

Is Go an Addictive Drug last edited by on July 4, 2015 - 05:29
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